Take 5 Checklist

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Take 5 Checklist

Postby baldoss » Tue Feb 26, 2013 1:50 pm

Hi all

Over the last couple of weeks I’ve been spending a lot of spare time reading and researching this awesome hobby and I decided I wanted to have a safety / take-5 checklist handy for when I eventually get a setup and am ready to launch into it without doing something stupid and hurting myself or damaging my equipment. I’m sharing this both so that hopefully some of you find it useful and to get some feedback for my own benefit, so please chip in with whatever you want! Working in a very safety-centric industry (mining) I’ve witnessed first hand that systems like this have prevented some seriously bad incidents from happening. Often the more serious injuries or incidents have been the old hands who’ve done a particular task a million times before who just get complacent over time because they get used to constantly working around those risks. Taking those few minutes at the start of a shift (or a run in our case :-D ) might save you a trip to the doctor or worse.

Anyway, here’s my work in progress list that I want people to add to, comment on and help build because there will be a lot of ideas that I’ve missed. A few of these are as much about making sure the run goes smoothly as it is safety but whatever :)

Pre-run checklist:
1. Fire extinguisher on hand (checked, tested – it needs to be one suitable for extinguishing ethanol fires)
2. Suitable gloves handy
3. Blow through collection hose(s) and check valves/outlets to make sure they’re clear of any obstructions/blockages
4. Check all clamps and seals for leaks (need recommendations on how to do effective pressure tests)
5. If indoors and using gas, get a fan running for ventilation so no ethanol vapours build up
6. Check that the drain valve on the boiler is closed before pouring the mash in (hurr)
7. Put your collection vessel inside a larger pot for any overflow
8. Ensure you have enough collection vessels ready and clear bench space to put them
9. Remove all other potential sources of ignition/flame from the area
10. Check that the source of water for your cooling is working prior to connecting
11. Check that cooling water input/outputs are connected to the right ends of the condenser
12. Check that the still is stable and not wobbly/likely to be knocked over before turning it on (check before and after adding wash/mash)
13. Check that you have enough gas before starting if you’re heating with gas, or check that your power supply is stable/on (I doubt any of us are running on a generator but who knows)

Other general stuff I’ve picked up from various stories/threads:
- Don’t get rugby league drunk and then fire up the still – you’ll drop something, forget something, and are much more likely to fuck something up and waste something or injure yourself
- If you have backset in a sealed container in the fridge, remember to crack the seal slightly if you remove it from the fridge/cooler due to expansion
- Don’t rest containers with anything in them on their side
- Lock the dog/cat/horse/wife up so they don’t come in and bump into stuff (from a story I read on homedistiller forum about a bloke’s dog jumping after a bug that landed on his still and knocking the whole thing over)
- Don’t keep your high-proof spirits stored on a shelf or up high on anything that could possibly collapse/tip over and drop the jars to the floor
- Use the strongest vessels you’ve got for the high-proof stuff so they are less likely to smash
- Do a quick visual check of your containers for any chips or cracks before using them for the first time or re-using them
- Clearly label all of your containers – date, time, contents, everything possible. Don’t want to tip heads from a stripping run into your carefully selected cuts! Consider keeping different coloured jars/bottles for certain things (e.g. green for stripping runs, clear for the good stuff)
- No plastics for anything
- Don’t wear thongs, shorts and no shirt, in case you get an ethanol fire and end up with serious burns
- If you need to leave the still for a slash or for any other reason, turn the heat source off! Do not leave the still unattended with your heat source still running

A lot of this is very obvious stuff but like I was saying before, it’s often the obvious stuff that gets overlooked just once that gets someone hurt. This list should also be good for me to look back on in a couple years time from my comfy bed in the burns ward and see which part of my own advice I didn’t follow :handgestures-thumbupleft: Fire away… (maybe a bad choice of words there)

Cheers and safe stilling :razz:
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Re: Take 5 Checklist

Postby Brendan » Tue Feb 26, 2013 1:55 pm

Good researching baldoss :handgestures-thumbupleft:

Now you just need yourself a still!
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Re: Take 5 Checklist

Postby Camikaze » Tue Feb 26, 2013 2:04 pm

Very nice Baldy - well done mate. :handgestures-thumbupleft:

EDIT - Don't forget mate, any high-proof spirits intended for storage should be labelled as Poison. It 'aint a lie. :-B
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Re: Take 5 Checklist

Postby blond.chap » Tue Feb 26, 2013 2:30 pm

That's a great list mate, a bit of input from me:

- Revise "No plastics for anything" to: "No plastics to be used - Apart from HDPE fermenters for wash, and PTFE (teflon) for still gaskets"
- "Check that cooling water tank (where used) is free of solid matter that could block the lines"
- During the run, check for leaks by passing a mirror around the still and looking for condensation
- During the run, monitor coolant water temperature and flow rate, ensuring that coolant water is flowing through the product condenser at all times
- During/After the run, don't try to lift a boiler full of hot stillage
- Never distil a charge over 40% abv.

I personally wouldn't switch off the heat mid run, seems to screw up the product, but then I'm lucky to have a flower bed near where I run the still
As far as checking for leaks, the only way I know of doing this is to put a small amount of water in the boiler and run it beforehand. This is a bit of a hassle to do before every run though.
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Re: Take 5 Checklist

Postby kiwikeg » Tue Feb 26, 2013 3:00 pm

bc said "During the run, check for leaks by passing a mirror around the still and looking for condensation" i have tried that and it dont work outdoors.. what works better for me is soapy water in a spray bottle sprayed onto suspect areas.
great work on check list baldoss
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